Drawing and Time:Notes on Time and Photography

The Instant Garden, 2009

The Instant Garden, 2009

From the beginning of the medium, photographers recorded moments in time, as well as images of people and places. An examination of the history of photography reveals how representation of movement and perspective lead to a new conceptualisation of Time through photography. Below is a survey of some of the key texts in Photographic Theory, along with others by philosophers on how our concept of Time changed with the development of photographic visual language. 

1. Movement


In the mid Nineteenth century, the first and second laws of thermodynamics created a new backdrop for understanding the body; the discovery of energy as indestructible changed the view of nature from static to dynamic and energetic. The discoveries of electricity and electromagnetism created a new view of the body as a field of energies...read more


2. Perspective

In Before Photography Peter Gallassi discusses the social context of the invention of photography.  Although all the technology to produce photography was present before the eighteenth century, it was the large amount of what he describes as ‘Speculative tinkering’ that spawned the photograph as we know it...read more

3. Linear Time


The experiments of Muybridge and Marey were undeniably of the greatest importance to the development of cinema. Jeffrey describes the ‘controlled aspect’ of the scientific experimentation of Muybridge and Marey as the aspect that links Animal locomotion (the publication by Muybridge in 1887) to Modernism as it was conceived in the 1920: ‘an aesthetic of control and management in which humanity, marshalled by designers, rehearses for a utopian destiny’...read more

4. Time as Illusion

In Death 24 x a Second, Laura Mulvey describes the new secular materialism that grew out of the Enlightenment project, created a new entertainment industry in illusions and uncanny experiences; a ‘new mechanical uncanny’ (40) creating. The history of illusion is a history of producing this effect.; an ‘instantaneous encounter’ with something the mind cannot explain, which exploits our repressed fear of the dead…